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Air Force Commander Air Marshal Roshan:Dirty Rule

SRILANKA/

By The Shrew

Sri Lanka‘s 12th Air Force Commander Air Marshal Roshan Goonetilleke, son of former Air Marshal Harry Goonetilleke who was the fifth Commander of the SLAF has proved he is not a cut above the rest in lowering standards of educational criteria for cadet officers joining the SLAF in order to accommodate his 21 year-old-son Rehan Goonetilleke.

The latter does not possess the necessary A/Level qualifications to sign up as a cadet pilot in the air force and so in January this year after the SLAF called for fresh cadet officers which specified A/Level’s as a must to enter,  a subsequent advertisement placed only a few weeks later specified that only O/Level qualifications are required to join the SLAF as a cadet pilot.

Rehan Goonetilleke is to be inducted into the SLAF and is due over a period of time to receive a thorough grounding in flying both here and abroad.

Prior to signing up with the air force, the young Goonetilleke secured his Private Pilot License (PPL) from Skyline Aviation (Pvt) Ltd. two months ago.  A license, his father despite being Commander of the SLAF never paid for.


Course for free

A phone call to the company confirmed that it does not offer any flying courses for free.  However The Sunday Leader has confirmation that Rehan Goonetilleke was granted a PPL which costs 7000 US dollars (approx. Rs. 700,000), but his course fee was never paid.

This sad story of history repeating itself within the same family for the wrong reasons  does not end there. A high level source at the SLAF related  how many moons ago, Roshan Goonetilleke’s late father Harry Goonetilleke during his tenure as SLAF Commander also changed the marking system in order to accommodate his son – Roshan.

Captain Chirananda Fernando who was at the time commanding officer of the flight training wing at China Bay was asked by Harry Goonetilleke to change the marking system in order to accommodate his son Roshan. The marking system at the time was a well established and formulated procedure laid down by the British as it took due consideration to theory and practicals, and did not need any amendments.

Captain Chira (as he is popularly known)  had refused but had said if the commander did so desire it he could effect such a change with a proper panel of officers or review board, from the next batch as Roshan Goonetilleke’s batch had already started their training and exams and the marking was based on the old system.

Determined however to ensure that Roshan would get nominated as best flying cadet Harry Goonetilleke formed a panel of “YES” officers and effected the change, and thereby ensured that Roshan was made the best flying cadet under the new system whereas it would have been Lalith Wijetunge (now a SriLankan Airlines captain) had it been on the established marking system in place.

Disgusted

All this and more, compelled a disgusted Captain Chira to file his papers to leave the SLAF.  Harry Goonetilleke sat on the request for many moons. Thereafter Captain Chira met Captain Herby Wanigatunge who was close to President J.R. Jayewardene and he had taken Chira to meet JR.

Following this meeting, the very next day the President’s Office had sent a letter to Air Marshal Harry Goonetilleke to approve the letter of request from Captain Chira and effect his release from the SLAF. Harry was also asked to submit an explanation as to why the request had not been “actioned” earlier but sat collecting dust.

Meanwhile more has followed at the SLAF by way of effecting change.  The Commander has now introduced a new recruitment and promotional criteria, which will effectively marginalise and discriminate hundreds of pilots who are currently part of the SLAF.

Under this new professional status, which will come into effect on June 30 this year, SLAF officers irrespective of the availability of vacancies, will not be provided an absolute guarantee for smooth passage from Wing Commander to Air Marshal.

All those aspiring to a successful career at the air force will  have to successfully navigate through the process spelt out in Air force Order – 753 to keep his/her career prospects alive.

The new order effectively differentiates career officers from non-career officers. In effect this means regular officers will be categorised into two categories namely, Command Professionals and Service Professionals.

Grading

Command Professionals will be those who opt to pursue a career in the air force until reaching the regulation retirement age or until, the expiry of the specified maximum period of service in particular substantive rank.

Service professionals will be those who have no desire to stay in the air force beyond the regular pensionable length of service (20 years for men – 15 for women) as described, while all officers of the Volunteer Air Force may be categorised as Service Professionals.

Those who have been graded “Non-Career Officers” may at the discretion of the commander of the air force seek categorization as a Command Professional.  Service Professionals unlike their counterparts recruited as Command Professionals shall not be considered for promotion to any rank beyond Substantive Wing Commander.  That too is subject to provisions.

No officer, who is above the rank of Temporary Wing Commander at the time of this order coming into effect and opts to become a Service Professional in accordance with the provision shall be considered for a further promotion.

Until now, officers of the regular air force until reaching the age of 55 would be promoted in the order of Squadron Leader, Wing Commander, Group Captain, Air Commodore and finally Air Vice Marshal.  One from among this group ultimately makes it to commander taking on the title of Air Marshal.

Service Professionals will be considered in the selection of officers to attend local and foreign career development courses of training and overseas visits offered by the air force only in the absence of suitable candidates from among the Command Professionals.

Cannot leave

In short, a Service Professional will not only have to forego a complete and sound training but also be prevented from leaving the service after 15 to 20 years depending on their gender unless granted permission to do so by the Commander.

Previously, senior officers of the ranks of Squadron Leader and Wing Commander were given advanced training and education at the Defence Services Command and Staff College (DSCSC) at Batalanda, Makola which was established in 1997 as the Army Command and Staff College.

Basic officer training is carried out at the Air Force Academy at the SLAF China Bay in Trincomalee. The academy offers a two-year programme of basic flight training and a variety of specialised courses. Pilot training is carried out at SLAF Anuradhapura by No. 1 Flying Training Wing using Cessna 150s for basic training and Nanchang CJ-6 (PT-6) aircraft for intermediate training.

Advanced jet training is carried out by the No. 14 Squadron in K-8 Karakorums based at SLAF Katunayake. Specialised training for different types of aircraft is carried out by the respective squadrons; this includes MiG-23UB, FT-7 and Kfir TC.2 used by the No. 5 Jet Squadron and No. 10 Fighter Squadron respectively, for this propose at SLAF Katunayake and for training for transports, Harbin Y-12s of the No. 8 Light Transport Squadron are used along with Bell 206s for helicopter training.

Training

Initial ground combat training for both officers and other ranks of both regular and volunteer forces are carried out separately at SLAF Diyatalawa in the garrison town of Diyatalawa. It also conducts advanced training for SLAF regiment officer cadets. Following training at SLAF Diyatalawa, general pilot branch officer cadets are sent to the Air Force Academy for flight training, and airmen and airwomen are sent to Advanced and Specialised Trade Training School for specialised training in different trades.

Air traffic controllers receive schooling at special facilities in Colombo as well as officer cadets from other branches. In addition, approximately 25 officers a year receive advanced training abroad, most commonly in Britain, India and, in recent years, at the United States Air Force Academy.

Wing Commander Ravi Jayasinghe, ADC to the Commander said Rehan Goonetilleke is still in the process of being interviewed.

Commenting on the new Professional Status for SLAF officers Jayasinghe said that due to “the bulk” of officers now in the air force this was one way of dealing with the excess personnel.  “It is only applicable for commissioned officers” he said, insisting new recruits would all have to undergo “intensive training” for two years before being commissioned.

Commander un contactable

Despite messages left with Air Marshal Roshan Goonetilleke’s ADC and four attempts to reach him on his mobile phone the Air Force Chief could not be contacted for comment before this article went to print

courtesy : Sunday Leader

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April 5, 2009 - Posted by | Defense, Hot News from Lanka | , ,

2 Comments »

  1. His was judged as a mutt but had to be passed due to Sinhala ONLY rule. The present commander is another of the same category. Now we are going for a repeat performance from the Goonetilleke family.

    Comment by Eelathan | April 5, 2009 | Reply

  2. how can i join with u

    Comment by Lalindu Sasmitha Jayasinghe | June 27, 2009 | Reply


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